Keeping Kids Entertained at Open Houses

Family Opening Door And Walking In Empty Lounge Of New Home

If you’ve ever had children tag along with open house visitors, you know it can sometimes be difficult to keep them entertained while touring a house. Here are a few ways to conquer kid-size boredom, keep the parents’ attention, and extend time to engage with the family.

Give kids something to do. Scope out a low-traffic station for snacks, coloring or play dough. Hold a contest for the best drawing of the home and offer a prize that winners can pick up at your office. This gets kids involved in the spirit of house hunting and creates additional contacts with prospects.

Give kids something to take home. Inexpensive coloring books and a pack of crayons, a pick-a-prize toy box, or a small goody bag handed off at the end of the visit can add a little extra patience to kids’ reserves. Your level of understanding in the situation will also translate well with parents.

Create a digital playground with a few iPads or a dedicated “kids only” laptop loaded with simple and fun-to-play games, like “My PlayHome” or “Make a House.” Gearing media toward real estate reinforces interest in the parents’ activity and helps them explain the process to little ones.

Ask kids’ opinions. While older kids may not be as finicky, they can distract parents and push to speed things up. Be ready with clipboards and opinion checklists that ask to list their top three likes and dislikes about the home. Send a branded house hunting checklist home with parents.

Kids can be an opportunity to develop a relationship with real-estate-minded parents. Don’t miss out!

Source: Inman

The First Step to Any Home Sale is Staying Safe Yourself

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The Colorado Division of Real Estate’s investigators were notified of recent instances of someone pretending to be a buyer and trying to bait and lure real estate brokers into meeting, under the pretext of wanting to look at homes for sale, and then acting inappropriately.

In one reported instance, the individual profiled and texted/emailed female brokers stating that he is a qualified buyer and forwards them a fake loan pre-qualification letter in order to get the broker to send him information and to set up a private meeting or home showing. It is important to not let your guard down at any time, even when it appears that a potential sale is coming your way.

  • Make sure that you take steps to protect your safety before you meet with a potential client.
  • Ask to see, review, and get identity information from their government-issued ID.
  • Have them fill out an information form (name, address, phone #’s, government ID, vehicle info, etc).
  • Meet any potential client first in the office or safe public location before agreeing to a private showing.
  • Go to a private home showing with a co-worker present.
  • If you do go alone to a showing, make sure that at least a personal contact and your office know of your whereabouts.
  • Do not drive with the potential client to a showing. They should drive themselves and meet you there.
  • If you are contacted by someone in an offensive or obscene manner, contact local or county law enforcement to report the incident.
  • If you are suspicious of the person, go with your instinct and pass on any meeting.

    These are only a few tips to help you be safe when meeting a potential client for the first time. The Division recommends that you also consider taking a real estate broker safety class.

5 Tips to Jump Start the New Year

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In the hullabaloo of the holiday season, be sure to carve out some time to reflect on this past year, and set goals for the year ahead. These tips will help you re-energize and refocus for a successful start to 2019.

Get started by following these 5 tips:

Celebrate success.
Reflect back on all that you have accomplished and celebrate it. Take 10 to 15 minutes and make a list, or a mental inventory of your achievements, big and small. When you look back, you’ll be amazed at how much you got done.

Build off a baseline.
Use your accomplishments as a springboard for goal setting. For example, if you finally organized your database this year, then schedule automated marketing to your network next year.

Ask for advice.
In business, getting feedback is a valuable tool for identifying professional growth areas. Reach out to clients, peers and local leadership who know you and your work. Ask for advice on ways you could improve.

Find a peer benchmark.
Know a colleague who performs a task exceptionally well? Learn more about what strategies and tools he or she uses, and see if you can apply the same to your work processes.

Broadcast your goals.
When you establish goals, share them with your colleagues. Then, invite them to check in with you periodically and hold you accountable for taking steps to achieve those goals.
Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

Source: ASCD Inservice

Your Offer Can Beat a Cash Offer!

couple in front of new house

The word on the street is that the sellers’ market is slowing down. But that doesn’t mean cash offers are a thing of the past. For a seller, cash offers may mean a faster closing, but they also may mean a lower offer and extra demands in the deal. Here are some ways you can still “win the deal,” even if you’re not paying cash.

1. Prove you are ready to buy: Get a Performance Guarantee with Universal Lending. Our Performance Guarantee is a conditional loan commitment that guarantees your earnest money up to $10,000. Essentially, you’re putting in an offer that has already gone through underwriting. Other homebuyers may offer a pre-approval letter, but a Performance Guarantee is even better.

2. If you don’t have a Performance Guarantee, get a pre-approval letter. Your pre-approval letter says that you are qualified to buy a home. Other buyers will have this letter, so if you don’t, you are at a disadvantage.

3. Choose a lender that can get deals done quickly. Universal Lending is known as a quick-closing lender and our loan officers would like to help your offer beat a cash offer.

4. Make a higher offer. Even if your buyers are eager to sell, more money may sweeten the deal. Cash buyers often offer less for the home, in exchange for the fast closing, but at the end of the day, they are still hoping to get as much money as they can. You may be surprised that you don’t have to offer thousands of dollars to beat the cash offer; a higher offer of just $1,000 may be enough of an incentive.

5. Offer a bigger down payment or more earnest money. The more you put down, the more serious you seem about your offer.

6. Make your best offer your first offer. Assume that there will be little or no negotiation on your offer and make your best offer right off the bat.

7. Learn what the seller’s terms are. A good real estate agent will find out what the seller is looking for. Does the seller need to stay in the home until they find a place to move? Are they looking to sell quickly and move out right away? Knowing this information ahead of time will help you make an offer that has a better chance of getting accepted.

8. Be flexible. Can you be accommodating on a closing date? Can you ask for fewer repairs? A little flexibility may go a long way.

9. Get another vote of confidence from your lender. An updated pre-approval letter is a great start. A phone call or video email from your loan officer is even better. One final push saying how strong of a buyer you are may be the key that helps you close the deal. A confident lender will instill confidence in the sellers.

When you’ve found your dream home, you want your dream home! Make sure you give it your best shot when you make your offer. Happy homeownership!

Real Estate Agents – Help Your Homebuyers Avoid Being Scammed

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Association of REALTORS® have announced concerns over closing cost scams.

Here’s how the scam works: Hackers break into a consumer’s or real estate professional’s email account to search for upcoming real estate transactions and closing dates. Then, hackers pose as the agent or title officer and email the homebuyer with a last-minute change to the wiring instructions. Should buyers wire money to the account, they will lose the money and likely lose the home they’ve been waiting for due to a lack of funds.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your clients don’t fall victim to this scam:

Ensure you have a united effort between agents, loan officers, closing attorneys and title officers to remind buyers of the dangers of this scam. Verify that changes to wiring instructions will not be requested by email.

Remind buyers to be alert. They should not follow instructions regarding closing funds solely from an email but when instructed to do so in person or by phone.

Add a brief warning to your email signature that reminds clients to remain cautious about suspicious messages during their transaction, especially near closing.

Do not conduct business over public Wi-Fi and be cautious about links that you click on. As an agent, transaction information is a highly valuable target for scammers and hackers.

Use secure document technology sharing and signing any sensitive documents. Our ULConnect App provides a safe, secure portal for sharing information.

Remember, email is almost never a secure communication platform, so take precautions to protect your clients.

Real Estate Agents Can Be Marketing Stars with Video

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At Universal Lending  we are big proponents of using videos to up your businesses’ marketing efforts. For real estate agents, sharing videos on your social media and website can help capture attention of new homebuyers and sellers or potential business partners. Videos can also help you build trust and show your expertise or place in the community. Here are four ways real estate agents can be the star of their marketing! 

Profile yourself. A short agent profile video can warm cold prospects and provide insight into who you are, what sets you apart, and how you can help clients best. Make sure to talk about your mission, services, how you work with your homebuyers and sellers, and anything else you want to share.  Use this video on your website and LinkedIn profile, and pin it to the top of your Facebook page.

Share your business wisdom. How-to, Q&As, and just-for-fun videos are popular and can help you share more about you and your business. Topics could include creating curb appeal on a budget,  staging secrets, how to prepare for a house hunt,  how to save for a down payment and much more!

Share your community expertise. Highlight local neighborhoods, interesting historical facts, great parks or hikes, schools, restaurants, or other attractions. Share the videos with any businesses you highlight. They may want to feature your video themselves.

Go behind the scenes. Reveal how you set up open houses or prepare for a photoshoot on a new listing. Give a sneak peek of open houses you’ll be hosting or share a special feature from a home while you’re hosting an open house – a cool kitchen, amazing storage space, a beautiful back yard. Home sellers will be especially happy to get a glimpse into your marketing efforts.

Share testimonials. Interview clients on how you helped them buy their first home, find their dream house, or sell the home they had for much more than expected in much less time. Referral colleagues can also provide great testimonials on the benefits of working with you or referring business your way. Always get permission to share these videos on your social media accounts or website.

Do you have video secrets you want to share? Please do! Email marketing@ulc.com to let us know more about how you set yourself apart as a video star.

Agents Can Work Faster and Smarter, and Stay Safer, with a Few Great Apps

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Real estate agents have a lot going on so anything that can make their job a little easier is always welcome. Here are some great apps for agents. Check these out and see if they help you work faster and smarter, and stay a little safer.

Bmonitored: This app provides a way to have safe meetings with strangers. Enter a meeting start time and safety alert times. Bmonitored will then ask you for confirmation that you are safe at the interval you have selected. Once you respond with your one-digit personal PIN, the system clock resets until your next safety alert interval. If you do not respond, your emergency contacts and the authorities are notified with your last GPS coordinates.

Magic Plan: Magic Plan will make you feel like a real magician when you create accurate floor plans quickly and easily on your iPad or your iPhone. Use the camera of your device and while turning around, mark the corners of your space. When you are finished, Magic Plan aggregates a floorplan!

With just a little practice you’ll be capturing a room using Magic Plan within a minute. That’s saving you a lot of time – plus the cost of employing someone else to measure it!

Homesnap: This app lets you snap a photo of any home to reveal home value estimates, interior photos, bedrooms, bathrooms, taxes, lot boundaries, public school information and more. In addition, consumers use Homesnap to search for homes every month, and each time they have a question about your listing, real estate agents using Homesnap Pro get the lead instantly for free.

Homesnap also comes with a safety timer or sends distress alerts if an agent is in danger.

Open Home Pro: Open house visitors sign in with a name, email address and other relevant information online rather than on a sheet of paper that you may or may not be able to read. After each open house, visitors receive a professional follow up email with the agent’s contact information. Agents receive a list of leads who don’t have an agent or a home to sell so they can act quickly to capture potential home buyers.

Postagram: This app is just plain fun and good business. Use your photos from Instagram, Facebook and your camera roll to design postcards. Customize the colors to match your style and choose your designs. These are great ways to easily stay in touch with a personal message with your homebuyers. And wouldn’t it be fun to send a photo message after a closing with your homebuyers in front of their new home or at the closing? Postagram helps keep business personal.

These are just a few of the great apps agents can use for business (and for fun!). Check these out today for the boost your business needs now.